tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC September 20, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
tonight on "world news" -- face-to-face. middle class americans challenge the president personally on jobs and the american dream. as economists say the second longest recession in history is over. free for all -- witchcraft, another raucous day in tea party politics. fish fight -- the first genetically modified animal, they call it franken-fish, will it be in grocery stores soon? sec relly pulls medicine off the shelves. a "world news" investigation. and letters from the heart -- fifth graders ask for help for their school and see what giant companies do.
good good evening. we begin our week with a headline. economists today announced they have studied the numbers and the recession officially ended a year ago, july 2009. it was 18 months in all. the longest since the great depression. as many americans know, the recovery since then has not been strong. in so many families, the struggle for a job and financial stability goes on. today, president obama faced one question after another from middle class workers, even his supporters asking, is the american dream dead? and we begin with jake tapper tonight. jake. >> reporter: good evening, diane. yes, it was striking just how many of these supporters seemed personally disappointed by the president, disappointment more generally reflected in the polls by an overall lack of enthusiasm for the president, among the very people who put him here. the president was confronted by
the angst of his supporters. participants at a cnbc town hall meeting were frustrated by what he has not been able to accomplish. >> i'm exhausted. i'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that i voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. >> like a lot of people in my generation, i was really inspired by you and by your campaign and the message that you brought, and that inspiration is dying away. is the american dream dead for me? >> my goal here is not to try to convince you that everything's where it needs to be. it's not. but we're moving in the right direction. >> reporter: the news today the recession officially ended in june 2000, which might come as a surprise to those who recall that month, when general motors declared bankruptcy and 515,000 jobs were lost. >> even though economists may say that the recession officially ended last year, obviously for the millions of
people out of work, it's still very real for them. >> reporter: the economy has stabilized since that month. the value of goods and services produced has increased, but unemployment has continued to go up. in a recent poll, 79% of the public agreed that the "united state economy is in a recession now." and many americans -- many supporters -- express concern about what they've heard from the president about solutions. >> i think he has lost some of the ability to connect during the campaign. >> i think he was shocked at the intensity of the republican opposition, and i think that it disoriented him for a while. >> reporter: the president was asked today if he thought those who didn't think he "got it" felt that way because of his racial heritage. >> when the unemployment rate is still high and people are having a tough time, it doesn't matter if i was green. it doesn't matter if i was purple. >> reporter: and, diane, the president was also asked if he could work with members of the tea party, if they get elected to congress.
he said he thought their healthy skepticism was a good thing but the challenge for the tea party movement is to identify specifically what they want to do. diane. >> all right, jake. on that front, it was another big weekend for the republicans and the tea party movement. mostly focused on christine o'donnell, the republican nominee for senate in delaware. she is now being forced to confront a lot of things she said in the past. is it fair and do voters care? our senior political correspondent john karl is with us now. john. >> reporter: diane, one thing all that attention has done, fair or not, is helped christine o'donnell raise some serious cash. her campaign has pulled in nearly $2 million in just six days, giving her more than twice as much money as her democratic opponent. >> you betcha! >> reporter: in the six days since christine o'donnell rocked the political world, she's had to repeatedly respond to words she herself uttered, most of them years ago. the latest courtesy of comedian bill maher, who dug up a clip
from 1999 on his old show "politically incorrect," where o'donnell says she "dabbled in witchcraft." >> one of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and i didn't know it. i mean, there's a little blood there and stuff like that. that witchcraft comment on bill maher, i was in high school. how many of you didn't hang out with questionable folks in high school? but no, there's been no witchcraft since. if there was, karl rove would be a supporter now. >> reporter: he's not. here's how rove responded to the witchcraft comment -- >> you know, in southern delaware, where there are a lot of church-going people, they're probably going to want to know what that was all about. >> reporter: but none of the voters we spoke to in delaware today seem to care much about o'donnell's words from years ago. >> teenagers do and say a lot of things that are crazy and silly and have no relevance to their future. >> i really don't care.
>> i don't think anything of what she may have been dabbling in witchcraft 20 years ago really is relevant. >> reporter: and o'donnell isn't the only one haunted by past statements. politico obtained this article, "the making of a bearded marxist," where the democratic candidate, chris coons, wrote in his college paper that, "my own favorite beliefs in the miracles of free enterprise and the boundless opportunities to be had in america might be largely untrue." not surprisingly, coons says he won't make an issue out of old comments. we'll see. in this race, you never know what else is out there. jonathan karl, abc news, capitol hill. one flash point for opponents and supporters of president obama has been health care reform. well, mark this week. because this thursday, the new law begins to take effect for american families. and a quick list now of what will happen as of this thursday. on thursday, your insurance company can no longer cancel coverage for people who are sick or set a limit, a cap, on your
lifetime benefits. your children can stay on your policy until they're 26 years old. and children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. tomorrow, and all this week, we're going to bring you a deeper look at how each of these challenges can matter in your life. out west tonight, another wildfire is burn, this time in utah. it began in an unlikely location, a national guard firing range, and spread fast, people rushing out of homes at night. clayton sandell is in utah tonight. >> reporter: the flames came fast over the ridge, sending thousands fleeing into the night. >> i could hardly run to the car. i was so scared. >> reporter: it happened so fast, the burns family barely escaped, taking only their medications. their house of 34 years burned to the ground. >> not so easy when you're this age to start all over again. >> reporter: helicopters and
tankers battled the flames today, as hundreds of evacuees who spent the night in shelters were allowed to go home, but with a warning -- the danger isn't over. >> if we get a pickup in wind, it's game on again. >> reporter: the fire started when live ammunition from a nearby national guard firing range ignited dry brush. that decision to use live ammo in these conditions is not sitting well with some homeowners. >> the guys that authorized the military to do the machine gun testing should be put in jail because it's arson. >> reporter: dry conditions have now kicked the fire season into high gear. a recent blaze near boulder, colorado, destroyed 166 homes. just one of several big fires across the west since july. >> by this time of year, we should start seeing cooler temperatures, better human humidity, but this year we have been very warm and dry throughout colorado and utah. >> reporter: firefighters hope to get some rain by wednesday. until then, the burning season continues. clayton sandell, abc news, harimen, utah.
>> a footnote now on the worst oil spill in american history that bp well in the gulf was permanently sealed yesterday, permanently. bp said today the disaster has cost the company $9.5 billion so far, and, by the way, those advertisements you see on tv have cost bp at least $93 million. and it's also a landmark week in the history of food. for the first time, the government is considering whether to allow the sale of food from a genetically altered animal. the fda taking it up today. a company has tinkered with the genetic material of salmon so the fish can grow faster and reach grocery sooner. are eaters ready? here's lisa stark. >> reporter: it looks like any other salmon, but opponents call it frankenfish and hope to keep it off your dinner plate. here's the difference -- both these fish are 18 months old but the larger genetically altered aquadvantage salmon grows twice as fast as the regular salmon. >> this is the first genetically engineered animal that would be introduced to the
food supply so it's a big deal. >> reporter: atlantic salmon grows in fits and starts, but scientists found that adding genetic material from a pacific salmon and an eel-like fish, helps them grow 'round the clock. >> the fish is indistinguishable from the traditional fish. >> reporter: how can you say it's indistinguishable, though, when it clearly has a different genetic make-up than an atlantic salmon? >> it tastes the same. it looks the same, and the biology is exactly the same. >> reporter: fda scientists today agreed -- >> aquadvantage salmon is atlantic salmon, and food from aquadvantage salmon is as safe as food from other atlantic salmon. >> reporter: still, critics claim more studies are needed on how the fish might affect humans and the environment. for instance, what happens if these altered fish somehow make it out into the wild? would they breed with native salmon? would they crowd out the wild fish? the company insists there are safeguards. >> they are all sterile.
and they're raised in physically confined facilities. >> reporter: but opponents say there's no guarantee all the fish will be sterile. and there's already one case study in how the best laid plans can go awry. canola plants, used to make canola oil, were genetically engineered to be resistant to weed killer. the problem, their seeds have now migrated from the company farms, carried by the wind and perhaps trucks on the way to market. they're now growing on the roadsides of north dakota. scientists worry they may create a hard-to-kill superweed. as for the genetically-altered salmon, one question still on the table, will folks eat it? and will they even know what they're eating? because the fda has to decide if the fish will even carry a special label. lisa stark, abc news, washington. and heading overseas now -- they did manage to hold those elections in afghanistan over the weekend. a key test of the u.s.-led military mission. there are thousands of allegations of irregularities like ballot stuffing but enormous courage by the afghan
people to vote. amid 157 serious acts of violence, the taliban blew up or captured 7 polling centers. and still ahead on "world news" -- did a respected company try to slip faulty medicine off the store shelves so the public wouldn't know? "world news" investigates. and the kids who wrote letters and reached deep pockets and big hearts. mom, did you borrow my green shirt? ♪ that's not really my style hey. weird, i can't find it. ♪ [ female nouncer ] new tide with...acti-lift tecology helps remove...many dry stains as if they were fre. hey! you found it. yeah, it must have been hiding in my closet. [ female announcer ] new tide with acti-lift. sty is an option. clean is not. get acti-lift in these tide detergents.
no pain medicine is proven to last longer than advil. not tylenol. not aleve. nothing lasts longer than advil. pain relief that lasts. one more reason to make advil your #1 choice. another heart attack could be lurking, waiting to strike. a heart attack that's caused by a clot, one that could be fatal. but plavix helps save lives. plavix, taken with other heart medicines, goes beyond what other heart medicines do alone,
to provide greater protection against heart attack or stroke and even death by helping to keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming dangerous clots. ask your doctor if plavix is right for you. protection that helps save lives. [ female announcer ] certain genetic factors and some medicines, such as prilosec, reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase. people with stomach ulcers or conditions that cause bleeding should not use plavix. taking plavix alone or with some other medicines, including aspirin, may increase bleeding risk, so tell your doctor when planning surgery. tell your doctor all medicines you take, including aspirin, especially if you've had a stroke. if fever, unexplained weakness or confusion develops, tell your doctor promptly. these may be signs of ttp, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, reported sometimes less than 2 weeks after starting plavix. other rare but serious side effects may occur.
and now a "world news" investigation -- johnson & johnson is one of america's most respected brands. tylenol, motrin. so why did people secretly pull one of its products off the shelves? here with our investigation, dr. richard besser. rich. >> yes, diane, for generations, parents have depended on johnson & johnson, but they've gone through eight recalls in the last year, the largest ever over the counter children's recall in history. usually when there's a faulty product, it's recalled. but that's not what happened in this case. some of its motrin tablets were not dissolving properly. meaning if you had a headache and took one of these affected tablets, it may not work as expected.
but instead of issuing a recall, something else happened. at 5,000 convenience stores around the country, contractors were sent out on a secret mission -- to quietly buy up the faulty motrin without alerting the public. >> i wish to this day that i hadn't done it. but i did, and i'm stuck with it. >> reporter: abc news found lynn walther, one of the contractors hired by an inventory company. they gave him written instructions detailing this assignment. "you should simply act like a regular customer while making these purchases," it said. "there must be no mention of this being a recall of the product. run in, find the product, make your purchase, and run out." >> usually the only thing that was said was, "that's quite a bit of motrin. what are you going to do with that?" and i just said, "i'd like to purchase this motrin." >> reporter: walther's concerns eventually made it to congress.
e-mails obtained by abc news reveal that senior executives at johnson & johnson subsidiary mcneil hid the program from the very beginning. they wrote, do not communicate to store personnel any information about this product. simply visit each store, locate the product and if any is found, purchase all of the product." an e-mail shows this program was authorized by mcneil's president, in which he says "let's make this happen a.s.a.p." and what about the fda -- the industry watchdog? the fda claims it had no knowledge of plans to launch a phantom recall. but e-mails from johnson & johnson/mcneil obtained by abc news raise questions as to what the fda knew. one e-mail goes as far as saying the fda was bending the rules by not automatically issuing a recall. both fda and johnson & johnson declined our requests for interviews. in a written statement, the fda
said, "when the fda learned that mcneil had hired contractors to secretly purchase product off the shelves, the agency advised mcneil to do a full recall, which the company agreed to initiate in july 2009. johnson & johnson/mcneil issued a statement saying, "mcneil kept the fda informed of its actions and removed the product from the market in a compliant manner. however, given the concerns highlighted by the congressional committee with respect to motrin, moving forward we would look to handle things differently." >> johnson & johnson is not off the hook but neither is the fda for being too cozy with industry and not forthcoming with congress. >> reporter: johnson & johnson is facing a criminal investigation amid all these recalls. the company's vice president who testified at the hearings, has resigned. >> is this the only time this has ever happened, do we know? >> congress is looking into some documents that have surfaced that suggest the company considered another secret recall of a children's product. >> at least considered it. okay.
we'll let you know what happens after those hearings. thank you, rich besser. when we come back, a father's afather a father's and kwished plea. advair helps significantly improve lung function. while nothing can reverse copd, advair is different from most other copd medications because it contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator, working together to help you breathe better. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms and should not be used more than twice a day. people with copd taking advair may have a higher chance of pneumonia. advair may increase your risk of osteoporosis and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking advair. i had fun today, grandpa. you and me both. if copd is still making it hard to breathe, ask your doctor if including advair will help improve your lung function for better breathing. get your first full prescription free and save on refills.
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preschool teacher valerie hamilton was found murdered in charlotte, north carolina, three days after she left a tavern with a man identified as michael harvey, a convicted sex offender. today, valerie's father, a suburban charlotte police chief, did plead on "good morning america" for help finding harvey. >> she was a perfect daughter. and i miss her. and i need justice for her. and i need -- i need folks to be looking for this guy. >> reporter: hours later, during the day, federal agents captured harvey in niagara falls, new york. he offered no resistance. and we follow up now on our story last week so many of you wrote us about. steve wompler who has cerebral palsy. he decided to rock climb, pulling himself up the 3,000 foot tall el capitan in yosemite park. every pull of the rope raised steve just five inches.
he did it. he reached the top. >> it was six days of just absolute torture. and i would say awe inspiring too. >> and when it was over, more than a few good men, marines, climbed to the top to carry steve down. and hundreds of you did write in. thank you, all. including a 19-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who said steve is an inspiration to you and to others to meet their full potential. and you also had some questions which steve is answering on our website, abcnews.com/"world news." coming up, some students write letters to help their school. okay. all packed. [ susan ] i hate that the reason we're always stopping is because i have to go to the bathroom. and when we're sitting in traffic, i worry i'll have an accident. be right back.
so today i'm finally going to talk to my doctor about overactive bladder. [ female announcer ] if you're suffering, today is the day to talk to your doctor and ask about prescription toviaz. one toviaz pill a day significantly reduces sudden urges and accidents all day and all night. and toviaz comes with a simple, 12-week plan with tips on training your bladder. if you have certain stomach problems or glaucoma or cannot empty your bladder, you should not take toviaz. toviaz can cause blurred vision and drowsiness, so use caution when driving or doing unsafe tasks. the most common side effects are dry mouth and constipation. [ susan ] today, i'm visiting my son without visiting every single bathroom. [ female announcer ] why wait? ask about toviaz today. [ male announcer ] ever have morning pain slow you down? introducing bayer am, an extra strength pain reliever with alertness aid to fight fatigue. so get up and get goin'! with new bayer am. the morning pain reliever. with new bayer am. words alone aren't enough.
my job is to listen to the needs and frustrations of the shrimpers and fishermen, hotel or restaurant workers who lost their jobs to the spill. i'm iris cross. bp has taken full responsibility for the clean up in the gulf and that includes keeping you informed. our job is to listen and find ways to help. that means working with communities. restoring the jobs, tourist beaches, and businesses impacted by the spill. we've paid over $400 million in claims and set up a $20 billion independently-run claims fund to cover lost income until people impacted can get back to work. and our efforts aren't coming at tax-payer expense. i know people are wondering-- now that the well is capped, is bp gonna meet its commitments? i was born in new orleans. my family still lives here. i'm gonna be here until we make this right. and my dog bailey and i love to hang out in the kitchen.
you love the aroma of beef tenderloin, don't you? you inspired a very special dog food. [ female announcer ] chef michael's canine creations. chef inspired. dog desired. finally tonight, a school in memphis, tennessee, is a school in need, a lot of need. some of the stuns took pen in hand and touched the american heart. here's steve osunsamosunsami. >> reporter: it began with a homework assignment -- >> hello, my name is isaac ramirez -- >> reporter: the fifth graders at sherwood elementary were told to write letters to captains of industry.
>> i am 10 years old -- >> and i'm a fifth grader at sherwood elementary school. >> reporter: they wrote ceos and cfos and told them the abcs of attending school in inner city memphis -- >> unfortunately, most of the books in my school -- in my school's library are falling apart. >> reporter: they never dreamed they'd hear back, but they did. >> i walked in the library and i saw so many books just stacked up on one big table, and i was really astonished. >> reporter: first, large corporations started sending them thousands of new textbooks. then hewlett-packard gave the three new computer labs and more than $100,000 in new computers. the head of a sporting goods company sent them more than $30,000 worth of jump ropes and basketballs. but they were still exercising in a basement also used as a storage company. this student wrote the company who built the new yankees stadium. they're now building the students a new $50,000 playground. >> the hardest part was writing,
writing it neatly, because we had to make sure it was almost perfect. >> reporter: the teachers have taught the students they have to do more than ask for things. they have to explain their needs. this is where they plan to build a playground. the students wrote they needed more exercise. the head of the company told us he does read all his mail. >> i have a 10-year-old son, who is in sixth grade. it kind of reminded me of the fact i have a fifth grader of my own. >> reporter: the students tell us they feel fortunate that so many people cared and listened. they've certainly learned the power of the pen. steve osunsami, abc news, memphis. >> you have to cheer the kids and the corporations. hope you have a great night. join us here tomorrow.
america needs clean energy, and america needs jobs. wind power can deliver on both - but only if the senate encourages investment by passing a strong renewable electricity standard. with a strong res, we can keep 85,000 wind power workers on the job, and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, too. jobs that america could really use right now. for american jobs, tell your senators to pass a renewable electricity standard today. hey, let me see that map for a second.